One of the most beautiful of the many points of interest in Florida is Silver Springs, a magnificent body of water flowing into the Oklawaha River. These springs discharge from a basin eight hundred feet wide and thirty feet deep, a stream of water of such sparkling clearness that any object resting on the ground beneath is plainly distinguishable.
Many interesting legends are told of Silver Springs, the majority of them being of Indian origin. It is said that Desoto brought with him on his explorations, his beautiful bride, whom he worshiped. One day while Desoto and his train were pushing their way through an almost impenetrable forest, they came suddenly upon this stream. Desoto’s bride and her attendants headed the procession, mounted on large elephants. Deceived by the limpid water, they thought the springs were but a few feet deep and plunged boldly in. All were drowned and since that day many elephant tusks have been found in the basin of the springs to prove the truth of the story.
Another legend is of the tragic fate of two young Indian lovers who lived in the forest near Silver Springs. Oklawaha was the son of the mighty chief Olaski ?, while Winona was the only child of the no less powerful chief Suwanee. The two old chieftains hated each other and never met except in bloodshed although their tribes were neighboring ones. One day while hunting, Oklawaha came upon Winona as she gathered herbs in the forest and fell dearly in love with her. His affection was returned and the two spent many happy hours together in the great dim forest. They feared to tell the old chieftains of their love, knowing that in telling of their story would bring about instant separation and possibly death. The lovers after several weeks of perilous happiness began to suspect that they were being watched and they at once planned to escape to the tribe of the Chattahoochee whom they hoped would grant them shelter. One night in response to a cry of a hoot-owl, Winona stole from her wigwam and joined Oklawaha in the shadow of their trysting oak. Silently they set forth on their fateful journey which would lead them to life or death. Suddenly a rifle shot rang out of the still night air of the forest and instantly the air resounded with hideous cries. Knowing their flight was discovered, Oklawaha and Winona made a desperate dash for freedom. Back and forth they doubled, successfully eluding their pursuers until at length they found themselves on a high bluff overlooking a glistening stream. As they stood there for an instant, the moon emerged from the dense clouds from which it had been veiled. Bathed in the silvery moonlight, the two motionless figures were clearly outlined against the sky. A yell of triumph told that they were discovered and their pursuers broke from the edge of the forest a few feet away. Turning, the lovers gazed deep into each other’s eyes for a moment. Then Oklawaha seizing Winona in his arms, leaped below. The union of Silver Springs and Oklawaha River typifies the union of the lovers in death and it is said that the green waving moss that grows in these streams is the lost Winona’s hair.
Still another myth is
told of Silver Springs. The young
brave, Navarro, of the tribe of the Tequesta’s was deep
of a young
maiden from the neighboring tribe of the Muscogee’s. The
and wisely to Navarro about his folly, but although Tululah was beyond
beautiful maiden, it was unforgivable that a Tequesta should so far
himself as to love a Muscogee. Navarro remained unshaken in his
to wed Tululah, however, and the old chief, Satouriana, decided that
means had failed he would try foul. Calling Navarro to him, he had him
to the lands of Creeks who dwelt towards the north, and bring him news
strengths and numbers. As a reward for the successful performance of
mission, Navarro would be allowed to wed the maiden of his choice.
Early in the
next day Navarro set out on his long journey, but not before a runner
the camp, secretly dispatched by Satouriana.
Ocala Evening Star: 6-12-1907